Monday, March 20, 2017

Innovation in the village

by Titus Obbo, UVP Program Manager

"Necessity is the mother of invention."

Tippy taps are locally-constructed hand washing stations that makes it easier for people living in the village to wash their hands in a place without running water. Re-purposed plastic jugs are hung next to a latrine or living space, and a piece of wood is used as a foot pedal to tilt the bucket and drip water onto your hands. It's a great invention -- but it also runs out of water quickly when used in a public space.

Anna next to her large-scale hand washing stationAnna has been an intern two times with UVP, but she's also an entrepreneur and innovator. While working with rural communities in Iganga to promote hand washing best practices, Anna decided to think about how to improve hand washing facilities in order to support public places that have no running water. She innovated a modern tippy tap that can serve hundreds of people per day, perfect for a busy primary school or other public location.

The new design has a larger-capacity tank that refills the smaller tippy tap with water. One of the biggest issues with tippy taps is the need to regularly refill the jug, so this reduces the number of times it needs to be refilled and keeps it full longer.

Tippy taps help to prevent recontamination after washing hands since a pupil doesn't need to touch it. The students step on the paddle connected to the bucket to enable it tip over and allow water to flow. My dream is to scale up this project to all primary and secondary schools in all the healthy villages where UVP has worked in before and the future healthy villages. Coupled by my interest in sharing knowledge with others, part of my plan is to identify local fabricators and train them to begin producing and supply the local markets around Iganga and the neighboring districts.

Right now we're continuing to focus on household tippy taps, but we're pleased that interns like Anna help us innovate and dream of big plans for the future.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Building on success of HIV program

By Kelly Child, UVP Managing Director

For the first time in months, I see faces I haven't seen. Elizabeth, the nurse in charge, and her barely-walking
daughter; Busoga Christopher, a vibrant Village Health Team (VHT) member who offers me lunch upon my arrival; the ever-smiling, HIV positive actor from the drama group gives me a boisterous hug when she sees me. Though I haven't been here for months, I'm welcomed like I'm family.

As the Managing Director, I don't go to the field often; my role at UVP is mostly based in the office. But the warm reception received in the village makes it seem like I'm here all the time.

Following the thorough review of programs we conducted last year, the first quarter of 2017 has been one of implementation and evaluation; a time to see if our ideas for improvement are working or if they need to be reconsidered. Today in Mwedanfuko, it feels like success. We've been engaging our VHTs differently over the past three months, and you can feel their dedication in the smooth-running event, along with the pride in their smiles. Their success is tangible with the multitude of people that arrive before noon (a rarity, as most people are working in their field, especially at the beginning of rainy season).  Due to the increase in early attendance, we were able to serve 61 more people than during the last outreach.

Titus, our passionate HIV and Malaria Program Coordinator, escorts me through the various points of data entry at the event. We've revised the data collection forms to more accurately capture our efforts and, despite a few misunderstandings, have been implemented successfully. Today's event provided HIV testing to 190 people, malaria testing and treatment to 100 people, and, thanks to our new partnership with Musana Community Health Center, we were able to provide reproductive services including contraceptive distribution and cervical cancer screening to the community of Mwendanfuko.

At UVP, we gauge success by witnessing a community assigning more importance to their health with the passing months. By those standards, today was a success!